In an announcement made by the City of Toronto today, the use of masks when riding the TTC has now been made mandatory to increase the health and safety of commuters during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Mayor John Tory, the decision to make masks mandatory was made under the recommendation of TTC CEO Rick Leary and Toronto’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen DeVilla.
The recommendation for masks will be voted on by the transit commission next week.
The announcement and recommendation comes after Brampton, Mississauga, and Ottawa implemented the mask rule for their transit system.
“This will help to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our city,” Tory said when addressing the recommendation.
“As the restart and reopening begins, we know that there will be more people back on the TTC… but at the same time, physical distancing will become a greater and greater challenge”.
He then went on to say that the proposed protocol is for the benefit of the riders and the TTC as a whole.
The Ontario government recommended masks for all public transit riders in a statement made today, as wearing masks will assist in curbing the spread of COVID-19.
The government is also urging that commuters continue to practice physical distancing and hand washing as often as possible, as well as urging public transit companies to continue the installation of barriers between the drivers and passengers. They also ask that those barriers be cleaned frequently.
Even though the TTC board needs to approve the recommendation at the next meeting, the TTC’s CEO Rick Leary already supports the plan.
“I want to make sure people know our system is safe for both customers and employees,” Leary said when addressing the recommendation.
Toronto has also announced that there is a plan to distribute over one million non-medical masks to transit users, with there being a focus on distribution to low-income and marginalized communities.
The TTC also has plans to launch an education program that will inform riders about the rule once it becomes official. Mayor Tory has also said that the enforcement of masks are not a priority but has also suggested that riders may potentially face fines in certain circumstances.
The only ones exempted from the rules are individuals with medical conditions and children under the age of two.
According to the TTC,, 50 or 60 percent of its riders are already using the TTC while wearing facemasks.
With businesses reopening across the GTA as part of stage one of the province’s reopening plan, the TTC and GO Transit services have been used more frequently as time passes.
With the number of riders increasing, the TTC says that physical distancing will not be possible at the rate of riders returning to using the vehicles.
The TTC’s ridership has plummeted to approximately 15 percent of its typical levels since the pandemic began, but Leary says that with the province slowly reopening and Toronto’s slow reopening process, the ridership level may increase to about 50 percent.
Despite these findings, Toronto will remain in stage one of the reopening process until the province deems it safe for the region to join the others in stage two.
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